What If Your Computer Got Stolen Today?
Here’s a thought that makes most web writers cringe: Getting your computer stolen. Or, having it crash completely to the point where no data is recoverable.
Could you go on? Would you lose hours — or days, even — of productive work?
What about passwords? Pictures? Site bookmarks? Notes?
The thought of total data-loss is daunting. It’s enough to make any web writer want to give up.
Fortunately, you can take measures to save yourself from such hard luck.
Start With The Right Mindset
Better productivity habits are the first key to saving yourself from a digital meltdown. But, to truly take advantage of them, you need an open mind.
That’s because true productivity isn’t just about changing your current habits. It’s also about adding new ones.
Even if you’re not technically-inclined, the best way to improve productivity is to take advantage of all the digital services and apps available nowadays. They’re not hard to master, especially since doing so saves you volumes of time in the end.
And, think about it. That’s time protected from having to re-do anything should you suffer any kind of data-loss. It’s also time gained so you can churn out more paid projects.
9-Point Productivity Guide For Your Electronic Career
Here’s a list of top productivity habits you should consider. They won’t all work for you, but some of them are real gems worth the time investment of learning.
- Use Online Storage Systems
Instead of storing all your files on your computer, move them to online servers. That way, they’re always accessible, no matter what computer you work from.
On top of that, your work will be securely backed up so you don’t have to worry about the consequences of your computer being stolen or having a meltdown.
As an added bonus, this makes it easy to keep your own file folders pared down and neat. Once you move something to an online folder, you can delete it off your own computer.
- Don’t Print Everything
It’s easy to feel like you need a paper copy of your most important documents such as invoices and contracts. But, the more you print, the more you add to your paper clutter. Plus, paper files are twice as hard to organize.
Instead, forego the printing process and store your important documents electronically. Either back them up to on online storage system or get an external hard drive to use for backup.
- Switch To Online-Based Email
A lot of web writers use personal information managers and email clients like Microsoft Outlook or Eudora. Though such programs can be beneficial and offer hundreds of extra features, they can also turn into time-zappers.
Depending on how you manage email, you can clutter up your hard drive and lose a lot of time to these programs.
Consider switching to something that’s online-based with more streamlined features. Google’s Gmail, for instance, automatically groups messages by conversation.
So, if you send an email to three people and they each respond, you’ll see one email in your inbox that lists all three responses (as opposed to three separate emails). Once you’re used to the change, you’ll find it really keeps the clutter down in your inbox.
Plus, different online-based email services let you easily archive and search so there’s no need to build a whole structure of directories and subdirectories in which to file emails.
- Hire A Digital Assistant
If you’re not the “organized” type, you may benefit from having an assistant. This person can keep your files organized for you while making sure you have everything backed up. In the scheme of using your time most efficiently, this approach could actually make it possible for you to earn a lot more money than you’d earn otherwise.
You can find a digital assistant through any of the freelance agency websites that allow independent professionals to apply for jobs. Also consider websites like Craigslist.
- Store Photos And Graphics Online
Any kind of graphic design or video work is bound to clutter up your hard drive and make your computer slower. If you keep a lot of personal pictures on your computer, it makes the risk of theft or data-loss even more frightening.
Instead, upload your photos to free, online storage systems like Picasa, which also includes free photo-editing software.
- Don’t Duplicate Efforts
The great thing about telecommuting is that most of your work for clients is delivered electronically. This means a copy of your attachments is usually always available through your email’s “Sent” folder (just make sure you turn on the feature to track sent mail).
Because of this, there’s no need to keep files from finished projects. Delete them off your hard drive. And, should you need to refer to them for any reason, you can always search your email to pull up a copy.
- Use An Online Calendar
This is a switch for a lot of us, especially if you’re used to a wall calendar or weekly planners. Still, it holds good value. Not only does it mean you can access your schedule from any computer or smart phone device, it also backs up all your data.
Better yet, if you take advantage of the “task list” features offered by services like Google Calendar, you can seamlessly create daily task lists. If the deadline for a project changes, you can simply drag-and-drop the task to the new day. This saves you from having to rewrite and revise your own calendar.
- Sync Electronic Devices Frequently
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of an online storage system, make sure you have some way to back up your data. Some people use USB flash drives while others prefer external hard drives.
Whatever you choose, make sure you perform your backup consistently. At a minimum, do it weekly.
- Only Read Emails When You Have Time To Respond
If you consistently read emails throughout the day without acting on them, you end up wasting a lot of time. Instead, commit to reading your email only during those times when you’ll be able to respond, file, or delete what comes through.
Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote Flow, reports that it takes a person 20 minutes to return to their most productive state after an interruption like email.
Keep Security And Privacy In Mind
If you make the switch to streamline and use online servers for your electronic storage, think about any security or privacy issues regarding your documents.
All online servers require a password, so make sure you use a complex, original password and change it regularly.
You should also consider encrypting really important files. Encryption means you convert your data to a format unreadable by others. It varies by computer and platform, but most computers offer a feature that allows you to encrypt files when saving them. A quick “how to” search on the Internet that includes the name of your computer platform should tell you your options.
Skills Are Much More Important Than Data
A lot of us fall into the habit of keeping every piece of digital information we come across because we might need it “someday.”
Instead, focus on developing your skills so you’re not dependent on your electronic files. Look for one major takeaway from every webinar, tele-seminar, or program you participate in.
Not only will you gain more value by way of improving your skills, you’ll also keep your computer files pared down and you won’t feel the need to constantly revisit and relearn everything. Meaning, of course, you’ll have more time to be productive.
The bottom line is to be open to change and try new things till you find what works for you. Don’t get set in your ways; they may be killing your productivity.
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